Injustice In The Philippines - Greedy Trial Lawyers To The Rescue
Category: Torts For Our Time
There is a call to arms in the Philippines, but this time it is a call to file lawsuits when injustice occurs. I am pleased that the "greedy people and even greedier lawyers" of the United States are leading the way. (At least, I think I am pleased.)
(Manila Standard Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) At one time or another we have probably heard about the McDonald's incident where a drive-through customer spilled a cup of hot coffee on her lap, promptly sued McDonald's, and was awarded a whopping $2.9 million in damages.
From this case sprung many frivolous lawsuits in the United States, where people sue for outrageous reasons, and even more unbelievably, would actually win such cases.
The American culture seems to encourage greedy people and even greedier lawyers to use the justice system to get rich quickly. And the courts that generously award such unreasonable lawsuits aren't helping to lighten the situation, leading to an assortment of disclaimers by establishments printed in product cartons or in shops, bordering on the ridiculous.
Under the American law these cases are called torts (damage, injury, or a wrongful act done willfully or negligently). In the Philippines, cases like these are known as a quasi-delict. It is called delict (offense), because a wrong was committed but it is qualified as quasi because the wrong was not done with malice and unlawful intent but rather arose from negligence or fault. Acts or omissions that cause damage to another give rise to legal action to recover compensation for injury suffered.
In the Philippines, cases on torts and damages are fairly uncommon. A majority of suits for damages come from vehicular mishaps and other accidents which are known to most as reckless imprudence resulting in damage to persons or property.
But very much unlike our western neighbors in the world, where people tend to sue at the drop of a hat, Filipinos are much less aggressive, sometimes to a fault, in asserting their rights, especially as consumers. When we suffer the fate of having bought a defective product or encounter shabby service, we say it was tough luck. And when somebody does speak up, local companies, for their part, almost always offer no relief to the complaining customer.
While I shudder at the prospect of seeing absurd and frivolous lawsuits flourish in the Philippines, I think that it is time for us to learn to speak up whenever we are confronted with what may appear as minor injustices. Our laws do give us a plethora of protection but we do not seem too concerned with them.
While the courts should not be treated as a recourse at every instance when we suffer even a slight grievance, much less as a money-making machine, we nonetheless must be conscious of our rights. No, in fact, we have a duty to stand up for them whenever they are being transgressed or we, as a people, will never mature.
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